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RELATING THE BIOPHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT TO HUMAN HEALTH OF RESIDENTS OF A NI-CU MINING AREA

AUTHOR/S: G.-I. E EKOSSE, V. M. NGOLE
Sunday 1 August 2010 by Libadmin2010

10th International Multidisciplinary Scientific GeoConference - SGEM2010, www.sgem.org, SGEM2010 Conference Proceedings/ ISBN 10: 954-91818-1-2, June 20-26, 2010, Vol. 2, 197-204 pp

ABSTRACT

Nickel-copper (Ni-Cu) mining and smelting activities within Selebi Phikwe area,
Botswana is suspected to be having negative impact on the biophysical environment;
thereby influencing the health of residents of this growing urbanised settlement. This
paper focuses on relating the biophysical environmental hazards emanating from mining
activities to human health status of residents of the study area. Mineralogical analysis of
samples of tailings dump, soils, and particulate air matter (PAM) were conducted.
Concentrations of heavy metals including Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Ni, Se and Zn, in samples
of tailings dump, soils, PAM, Colophospermum mopane (mopane plant), and Imbrasia
belina
(phane caterpillar) were also investigated using appropriate analytical tools. Xray
diffraction analyses revealed nickelbloedite, Na2(Ni(SO4)2.4H2O; pyrrhotite; quartz,
SiO2; pentlandite; malachite,Cu2CO3(OH)2; chalcopyrite; actinolite,
Ca2(Mg,Fe)5Si8O22(OH)2; cristobalite; tremolite; kaolinite, Al2Si2O5(OH)4; mica and
albite phases in the tailings dump. Mineralogy of whole soils consisted of actinolite,
albite, quartz, microcline, KAlSi3O8; pyrrhotite, silicon sulphide, SiS; and cobalt oxide,
CoO; whereas the < 2 μm soil fraction was made of kaolinite, smectite,
Na0.3(Al,Mg)2Si4O10(OH)2.xH2O; anorthite, CaAl2Si2O8; illite, KAl2(Si3AlO10)(OH)2
and quartz. The PAM consisted of quartz, SiO2; pyrrhotite; chalcopyrite, CuFeS2; albite,
and djurleite, Cu31S16. Concentrations of heavy metals measured in the different
environmental media were associated with the identified minerals. High concentrations
of heavy metals recorded in the different environmental media had affected the
biophysical environmental quality at Selebi Phikwe. Findings of the study suggest that
the heavy metals uptaken by Colophospermum mopane are translocated to Imbrasia
belina
mainly through ingestion. Contaminated Imbrasia belina are consumed by
residents; thus posing as human health hazard. Pulmonary, respiratory and gastronomic
sicknesses and diseases are rampant at the study area, and have been associated to the
mining activities there.

Keywords: Chest pains, Persistent Coughing, Colophospermum mopane, Imbrasia belina, Heavy metals, Mineralogy, X-ray diffraction

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